Newtownabbey sensory garden to take root with community’s support

An appeal has been made for volunteers to help build a sensory garden in Newtownabbey for people with dementia.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 3:16 pm

The new project will take root at The Croft, which is a specialist supported living service operated by Praxis Care and Choice Housing Association in the Abbots Cross area of the borough,

Stephen Potter, Praxis Care head of operations for Greater Belfast, says the garden will form a structured and meaningful activity run all year round and provide tenants with a sense of purpose.

“At The Croft, we support 21 people with an early diagnosis of a dementia, allowing them to remain in the community for as long as possible. Focused activity, particularly gardening, helps maintain physical activity, cognitive function and social interaction as well keeping people stimulated, feeling valued and helpful to others,” he explained.

Left to right, Andrew Ferguson and Irene Low, friends of residents, the Mayor, Cllr Jim Montgomery,  Colin Fullerton, scheme manager and Stephen Potter, head of operations
Left to right, Andrew Ferguson and Irene Low, friends of residents, the Mayor, Cllr Jim Montgomery, Colin Fullerton, scheme manager and Stephen Potter, head of operations

“Gardening especially engages all our senses, maintains our dexterity and helps with cognitive function as the garden needs to be planned in advance.

“Having a garden at The Croft would also allow us to grow vegetables and fruit which could be eaten on site. In summer, residents could make bird boxes/feeders and planters. In autumn, we would gather materials for Christmas crafts and wreaths to be prepared in the winter.”

Supporting the appeal for volunteers to come forward, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery, said he is particularly keen to see community involvement in the development of the garden.

Cllr Montgomery said: “Praxis Care and The Croft have made resources available for the planning and construction of the garden but what we need is people with some gardening experience to help pull it all together. The project will commence once public health advice allows and we will maintain social distancing and take necessary precautions.

“As Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, I see it as our duty as citizens to take part in projects such as this to help make our borough a better place to live. I would urge everybody to offer any time they might have to help this wonderful garden take root.”

To join the volunteer gardening team, contact Ian Cardwell, Praxis Care volunteer manager, at [email protected] or 07841 560 890.

The Croft has been in operation since 2019 and is supported by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

Praxis provides care for adults and children affected by mental ill health, learning disability, autism and dementia.

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Click here to read: Hazelbank sensory garden among access projects approved

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